Revelation 3 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Revelation 3
Pulpit Commentary
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Verses 1-6. - The epistle to the Church at Sardis. This Church is one of the two which receives unmixed reproof. Smyrna and Philadelphia receive no blame; Sardis and Laodicea receive no praise. Sardis lies almost due south of Thyatira, on the road to Philadelphia, between the river Hermus and Mount Tmolus. It had been in turn Lydian, Persian, Greek, and Roman, and, like its last Lydian king, Croesus, had been celebrated for its wealth. The auriferous stream Pactolus, in summer almost dry, flowed through its marketplace; but its chief source of wealth was its trade. In A.D. "twelve famous cities of Asia fell by an earthquake in the night... The calamity fell most heavily on the people of Sardis, and it attracted to them the largest share of sympathy. The emperor [Tiberius] promised ten million sesterces (£85,000), and remitted for five years all they paid to the exchequer" (Tac., 'Ann.,' 2:47). A little later Sardis was one of the cities of Asia which claimed the honour of erecting a temple in honour of Tiberius, but the preference was given to Smyrna ('Ann.,' 4:55, 56). Of the inscriptions which have been,discovered at Sardis, nearly all are of the Roman period. Cybele, or Cybebe, was the chief divinity of Sardis; but no reference to this nor to any of the special features of the city can be traced in the epistle. In the second century, Melito, Bishop of Sardis, held a very prominent place among Asiatic Christians, both in personal influence and in literary work. Among his numerous writings was one on the Apocalypse of St. John. The prosporous and luxurious capital of Lydia is now represented by a few huts and a collection of ruins buried deep in rubbish. It still retains its ancient name in the form Sart. The Church in Sardis has no Nicolaitans, no Balaam, no Jezebel. But there is worse evil than the presence of what is morally and doctrinally corrupt. The numbness of spiritual torpor and death is more hopeless than unwise toleration. The Church in Sardis, scarcely out of its infancy, has already the signs of an effete and moribund faith; and it is possible that this deadness was a result of the absence of internal enemies. Verse 1. - He that hath the seven Spirits of God (see notes on Revelation 1:4, 16, 20; but observe that this designation of Christ does not occur in the opening vision). In Revelation 5:6 the Lamb is seen "having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God." The seven Spirits being the Holy Spirit in his sevenfold activity, it is manifest (as Trench observes) that this passage is of importance in reference to the doctrine of the double procession. The Son hath the Spirit, not as One who receives it from the Father, but as One who can impart it to men. As man he received it; as God he gives it. And a Church sunk in spiritual deadness specially needs such a gift. Hence the repetition about having the seven stars, which appears also in the address to the Church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1). Note, however, that here we have ἔχων for κράτῶν, which would not have been appropriate to express the Son's possession of the Spirit. It is he who holds in his hand the angels of the Church that also has the Spirit wherewith to quicken them. Those that are alive owe their life and growth to him. Those that are dying or dead may be restored to life by him. Thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead. This, again, is thoroughly in the style of the Fourth Gospel. St. John frequently states some gracious fact, and in immediate sequence gives the very opposite of what might have been expected to result from it. "Thou hast a reputation for life, and (instead of being full of vigour and growth) thou art a corpse." This has been called "the tragic tone" in St. John (comp. John 1:5, 10, 11; John 3:11, 19, 32; John 5:39, 40; John 6:36, 43, etc.). In all these cases the contrast is introduced by a simple καί, which may be rendered "and yet;" but the simple "and" is more forcible. Beware of the unworthy literalism which suggests that the Bishop of Sardis bore a name which implied life, e.g. Zosimus, or Vitalis. As already stated (notes on Revelation 1:20), it is improbable that "the angel" means the bishop. And in any case "name" is here used in the common sense of character or reputation. Comp. Herod., 7:138, where the historian says that Xerxes' expedition had the name (οὔνομα εῖχε) of being directed against Athens, but was really a menace to the whole of Greece. We have very similar uses of ὄνομα in Mark 9:41 and 1 Peter 4:16. The Church in Sardis had a name for Christianity, but there was no Christianity in it.
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Verse 2. - Be watchful; literally, become watching. The use of ψίψνομαι implies that the watchful state is not the normal one - a change is needed before the watching can come about (comp. Revelation 1:9, 10, 18; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 4:2; Revelation 6:12, etc.). The use of the present participle instead of an adjective ("watching!" for "watchful") makes the charge more definite; not merely "be of a watchful character," but "become a watcher" (comp. Revelation 16:10; Mark 1:4; Mark 9:3, 7; Hebrews 5:12). Stablish the things that remain, which were ready to die. The reading, "were ready to die," is the best attested, and as being less smooth than "are ready to die," was more likely to be altered. It anticipates the time when the command will be obeyed: "which were ready to die when thou didst begin to stablish them." No doubt τὰ λοιπά may be masculine in signification, and mean those members of the Church who have still some life in them. But this interpretation anticipates ver. 4, which apparently introduces a new fact. It seems better, therefore, to retain the neuter, and interpret "the things that remain" as meaning the few good elements of faith and practice which still survived. The externals of the Christian life were there; otherwise it could not have been even nominally Christian. And these externals might be made realities to support the revived life of the Church. For I have found no works of thine. The difference between the Authorized Version and the Revised Version here depends upon the presence or absence of the article before ἔργα. The balance of probability is against τά, and its absence makes the reproach stronger. Fulfilled before my God. The substitution of "fulfilled" (Revised Version) for "perfect" (Authorized Version) is important. The Greek is πεπληρωμένα (John 16:24; John 17:13, etc.), not τέλεια (1 John 4:18). And "fulfilled" is better than "complete" (Alford, Tregelles), in order to bring out the connexion with the numerous places in which the same verb occurs, especially in the writings of St. John (Revelation 5:11; John 3:29; John 7:8; John 12:38; John 13:18; John 15:11, 25, etc.; 1 John 1:4 2 John 12); in many of which passages "complete" would not stand as a rendering. "Fulfilled," or" made full," means made up to the right standard of excellence. The works of the Sardian Church have been weighed, and found wanting before God. "A minister of Christ is very often in highest honour with men for the performance of one half of his work, while God is regarding him with displeasure for the neglect of the other half." "Before my God" is undoubtedly the true reading, whatever may be the case in Revelation 2:7. Only in the writings of St. John does Jesus Christ speak of the Father as "my God;" and this fact is one more link between the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse. In this chapter we have five instances - here and ver. 12 (comp. Revelation 2:7 [possibly] and John 20:17). In Matthew 27:46 Christ adopts the language of Psalm 22:1, and addresses the Father as" my God;" and St. Paul uses similar language (Ephesians 1:17). The expression, "before God" (ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ), is specially common in the Apocalypse and in the writings of St. Luke and of St. Paul; it does not occur in either St. Matthew or St. Mark.
Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Verse 3. - Remember therefore how thou hast received and didst hear (comp. Revelation 2:5). Like the Ephesians, the Sardians are reminded of the better condition from which they have receded. They are of those "who, when they have heard the Word, straightway receive it with joy; and they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while" (Mark 4:16, 17). The "how," as is shown by the verbs "receive" and "hear," refers to the readiness with which they accepted the gospel, rather than to the power with which it was preached to them. The tenses are instructive: the aorist applies to the hearing at some definite period in their history; the perfect implies the permanent result of the act of reception. Keep and repent. Keep what thou didst hear. "Keep" is better than "hold fast," to mark the difference between τηρεῖν (Revelation 1:3; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:3, 8, 10, etc.), and κρατεῖν (Revelation 2:1, 13, 14, 15, 25; Revelation 3:11, etc.). Here again the tenses should be noted: the present imperative indicates that they are to continue to keep; the aorist, that they are to repent once for all. We have a similar combination of tenses in" Take these things hence at once; continue to refrain from making my Father's house a house of merchandise" (John 2:16; comp. John 5:8, 11; Acts 12:8; 1 Corinthians 15:34). "Remember" here and in Revelation 2:5 is with equal fitness the present imperative: "continue to remember." I will come as a thief. The "on thee" after "come," though well supported, is probably not genuine. Wherever this figure is used in the New Testament of the coming of Christ, the word used is κλέπτης, "a thief," and not ληστής, a "robber" or "bandit." This shows, what is also plain from the context, that secrecy, not violence, is the point of the similitude (comp. Revelation 16:15; Matthew 24:43; Luke 12:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10). Thou shalt not know what hour; literally, thou shalt in no wise come to know during what kind of an hour. The negative is the strongest form, οὐ μή (Revelation 2:11; Revelation 3:5, 12). The verb is γινώσκειν, which implies acquisition of knowledge (Revelation 2:23, 24; Revelation 3:9). The pronoun is ποῖος (John 10:32; John 12:33; John 18:32; John 21:19; and especially Matthew 24:42; Luke 12:39); and "hour" is in the accusative (John 4:52).
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
Verse 4. - But thou hast a few names in Sardis. The "but" (Revised Version) must be added, and the "even" (Authorized Version) omitted, on conclusive evidence. "Names" is here used in the sense of persons (Acts 1:15 and Revelation 11:13, where the Revised Version has "persons"); there is no reference to the totally different use of "to have a name" in ver. 1. Bode remarks, "He knoweth his own sheep by name, as he knew Moses by name, and writeth the names of his own in heaven." These few are like the few righteous in Sodom. Though they consent to abide in the Church, they do not leaven it, nor does their presence save it: "They shall deliver but their own souls by their righteousness" (Ezekiel 14:14, 16, 18, 20). The word for "defile" (μολύνειν) occurs only here, Revelation 14:4, and 1 Corinthians 8:7. Its radical meaning is "to besmear," and so "to befoul." That of μιαίνειν (John 18:28; Titus 1:15; Hebrews 12:15; Jude 1:8) is rather "to stain," which is not necessarily "to befoul." That of κοινοῦν (Matthew 15:11-20; Mark 7:15-23; Acts 10:15; Acts 11:9; Acts 21:28; Hebrews 9:13) is "to make common or profane." In most cases all these three are rendered "defile" in our version. These few in Sardis have kept themselves "unspotted from the world" in which they live. Neither the corruption of heathendom nor the torpor of a moribund Church has infected them. Their contact with a dead body has imparted no life to the body and no defilement to them. There is no need to press the metaphor and give a special meaning to "garments" - whether their souls, or their bodies, or their consciences, or their baptismal robes. The metaphor is implied in "putting on the new man" (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10), "putting on Christ" (Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27), where the word for "put on" is ἐνδύεσθαι, "to be clothed with." They shall walk with me. In accordance with Christ's high-priestly prayer (John 17:24; comp. Roy. 21:24). In white. This elliptical expression (ἐν λευκοῖς) for "in white robes" occurs in the New Testament only here and John 20:12, and is another small link between the two books. The word "white" (λευκός), excepting in Matthew 5:36 and John 4:35, is in the New Testament always used of heavenly purity and brightness. Thus also Plato, Ξρώματα δὲ λευκὰ πρέποντ ἄν θεοῖς εἴν ('Laws,' 956); and Virgil of the souls in the other world, "Omnibus his hives cinguntur tempora vitta" ('AEneid,' 6:665). (See notes on Revelation 1:14.) As we might expect, the word is specially frequent in Revelation. Of course, the white garments referred to here, vers. 5, 18, and Revelation 4:4, are quite different from the undefiled garments just mentioned. The one is the imperfect purity of struggling saints on earth, the other the perfect purity of glorified saints in heaven. The promise, therefore, is threefold.

(1) They shall walk, i.e. they shall have life and liberty.

(2) They shall have Christ as their constant Companion.

(3) They shall be in unsullied glory.

And why? Because they are worthy. The merit is not theirs, but Christ's, in whose blood they have washed their robes (Revelation 7:14; 1 John 2:2), and by whose grace they are preserved in holiness (1 John 1:7). It is because they have by God's help fulfilled the conditions which he has proraised to accept, that they are worthy. The nearest approach to this declaration of worthiness on the part of God's saints seems to be Luke 20:35 (not 21:36) and 2 Thessalonians 1:5, 11. But in all these passages they are "accounted worthy" (καταξιωθέντες) rather than "worthy" (ἄξιοι). In Revelation 16:6 we have the opposite worthiness of those who have earned the "wages of sin" instead of the "gift of God" (Romans 6:23). Such persons are literally worthy, and not merely accounted worthy.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Verse 5. - He that overcometh shall thus be arrayed in white garments. It is difficult to see on what principles of criticism Alford retains the reading of the Textus Receptus, οῦτος, instead of that rightly accepted by the Revisers, οὕτως. The latter has a very decided balance of external evidence in its favour; the former is a corruption very likely to occur either accidentally or in order to introduce a construction very frequent in St. John (John 3:26; John 6:46; John 7:18; John 15:5; 2 John 1:9). The change from "clothed" (Authorized Version) to "arrayed" (Revised Version) here and elsewhere is no doubt made in order to mark the difference between περιβελημένος and ἐνδεδυμένος. But neither the Authorized Version (John 17:4; 19:8) nor the Revised Version (John 11:3; 15:6) is consistent. The Authorized Version generally renders both words "clothed." The Revised Version generally has "arrayed" for περιβελημένος, and "clothed" for ἐνδεδυμένος. The Authorized Version is singularly capricious in having "garments" for ἱμάτια in ver. 4, and "raiment" for the same word in ver. 5. The construction, περιβάλλεσθαι ἔν τινι, occurs again in Revelation 4:4, and once or twice in the LXX. (Deuteronomy 22:12); the usual construction is with the accusative. The promise in this verse is again threefold, the last of the three promises in ver. 4 being repeated here as the first in this triplet. Repetitions of a similar kind are very frequent in the Fourth Gospel (John 1:1, 5; John 10:11; John 13:20; John 15:19; John 17:9, 16, etc.). I will in no wise blot out his name. The negative, as in vers. 3 and 12, is in the strongest form. Here we seem to have a figure borrowed from the custom of striking the names of the dead out of the list of citizens. But the figure is a very ancient one, as is seen from parallels in the Old Testament. The present passage, Ἐξαλείψω... ἐκ τῆς βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς is singularly close to the LXX. of Psalm 69:29, Αξαλειφθήτωσαν ἐκ βιβλίου ζώντων; and to Exodus 32:33, 'Αξαλείψω αὐτὸν ἐκ τῆς βίβλου μου; comp. Psalm 109:13; Daniel 12:1; and for the exact expression, "the book of life," see Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27; and (without articles) Philippians 4:3, where Bishop Lightfoot comments as follows: "The 'book of life' in the figurative language of the Old Testament is the register of the covenant people (comp. Isaiah 4:3; Ezekiel 13:9). Hence 'to be blotted out of the book of the living' means 'to forfeit the privileges of the theocracy, to be shut out from God's favour.' But the expression, though perhaps confined originally to temporal blessings, was in itself a witness to higher hopes; and in the Book of Daniel first it distinctly refers to a blessed immortality (comp. Hermas, 'Vis.,' 1:3; see also Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23)? And I will confess his name. Without the smallest manuscript authority or any encouragement from previous versions, Latin, German, or English, the Genevan and Authorized Versions here render καί "but"! The simple connexion with "and" is thoroughly in St. John's style: "He shall be... and I will... and I will" (comp. vers. 12, 17; Revelation 2:26-28, etc.; John 1:4, 5, 10, 11, 14, etc.). This is the third of the promises:

(1) he shall be in unsullied glory;

(2) he shall never lose his heavenly citizenship;

(3) he shall be publicly acknowledged as a citizen by the Judge.

This third point is a combination of Matthew 10:32 ("before my Father") with Luke 12:8 ("before the angels of God"). "We may observe of this epistle that in great part it is woven together of sayings which the Lord had already uttered in the days during which he pitched his tent among men; he is now setting his seal from heaven upon his words uttered on earth" (Trench).
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Verse 6. - He that hath an ear. As in the others of the last four epistles, and unlike the first three, this exhortation follows the promise to the victor. No satisfactory explanation of the change of arrangement seems to have been given by any commentater. The order in the four last epistles seems best. The exhortation forms a fitting conclusion to each, as in the synoptic Gospels to parables (see notes on Revelation 2:7, and comp. Revelation 13:9).
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
Verses 7-13. - The epistle to the Church at Philadelphia. The circuit continues in the same direction. Philadelphia lies about thirty miles south-east of Sardis, on the road to Laodicea. It is said to owe its name to Attalus Philadelphus, King of Pergamum, B.C. 159-138. But it is by no means certain that he was the founder. A trustworthy tradition as to its Egyptian origin points to Ptolemy Philadelphus, who had estates in Asia Minor (Theocr., 17:88). Lying at the western edge of a district whose highly volcanic character earned it the name of Phrygia Catacecaumene, Philadelphia was constantly suffering from earthquakes (cf. ver. 12). It was destroyed along with Sardis in the catastrophe of A.D. (Tac., 'Ann.,' 2:47). But the advantages of its position, commanding the way to the pass between the Hermus valley and the Maeander valley, and the richness of its vine produce (Virgil, 'Georg.,' 2:98), seem to have induced the inhabitants to cling to the site. The coins of Philadelphia often have the head either of Bacchus or a Bacchante on one side; and it is a known fact that volcanic soil is specially favourable to vine growing. Yet in Roman times it was not equal to Ephesus or even Laodicea; and for law courts its citizens had to go to Sardis. Nevertheless, it has outlived all these three, and still continues on the same site, and perhaps within the same walls, as of old. At the close of the fourteenth century it was the last Byzantine city to surrender to the Turks, and, when it did succumb, made better terms than any of the others. To this day it retains the privilege of free Christian worship, with the use of bells for service, and processions in public - a thing allowed by the Turks in no other inland city of Asia Minor. It has a bishop and a dozen churches, and it is said that about a third of its fifteen thousand inhabitants are Christian. Its modern Turkish name is Allah Shehr, "the city of God," or, as others write and render it, Ala Shehr, "the striped city." In any case the coincidence with "the name of the city of my God" (ver. 12) is purely accidental. (For an eloquent account of Philadelphia, see Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall,' Revelation 64.) It is doubtful whether there are any local allusions in the epistle; but some have fancied that "thou hast a little power" (ver. 8) and "a pillar in the temple" (ver. 12) are such (see notes in each place). The name of "Little Athens," which Philadelphia sometimes bore, on account of its numerous temples and festivals (Acts 17:16, 22), shows that the little Christian community would have to contend with a specially vigorous form of heathenism. It had also to contend with a colony of hostile Jews, which was no doubt largely augmented after the destruction of Jerusalem, when fugitive Jews came to "worship before the feet" of the Philadelphian Church (ver. 9). Hence the epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians treats of Judaism as one of their chief dangers (c. 6, 8, 9.). There were men among them who questioned the authority of Gospels and Epistles, and admitted only the Old Testament Scriptures (τὰ ἀρχεῖα) as binding. Some had tried to lead even Ignatius himself astray (7.). Altogether his epistle gives a less happy picture of the Philadelphians than that which we have here, where (as in the epistle to the Church at Smyrna) the Philadelphian Church receives unmixed praise. Whether the large proportion of Old Testament language and imagery which is found in this epistle has any connexion with the Jewish colony in Philadelphia is uncertain. Perhaps most of the Christians had been originally Jews. Verse 7. - He that is holy, he that is true. It is doubtful which of these two clauses should precede: authorities are somewhat evenly balanced. Christ, the Speaker, here claims to be "the Holy One" (ἁ ἅγιος), and therefore God (Revelation 6:10; comp. Revelation 4:8; John 17:11). In the Old Testament "the Holy One" is a frequent name of God, especially in Isaiah 1:4; Isaiah 5:19, 24; Isaiah 10:7, 20; Isaiah 12:6, etc.; Job 6:10; Jeremiah 50:29; Jeremiah 51:5; Ezekiel 39:7; Hosea 11:9; Habakkuk 3:3, etc. The word does not occur in Homer or Hesiod, nor in the Greek tragedians, but is very frequent in the LXX. and the New Testament. Its radical meaning is separation. The two epithets "holy" and "true" must not be merged in one as "the truly holy." The "True One" has a very distinct meaning of its own. Note that the adjective used is ἀληθινός, not ἀληθής. 'Αληθής, verax, is "true" as opposed to "lying;" ἀληθινός, verus, is "true" as opposed to "spurious," "unreal," "imperfect." Christ is "the True One" as opposed to the false gods of the heathen; they are spurious gods. Both adjectives, and especially ἀληθινός, are characteristic of St. John. The latter serves to bind together Gospel, Epistle, and Apocalypse. It occurs nine times in the Gospel, four times in the First Epistle, and ten times in the Apocalypse; twenty-three times in all; in the rest of the New Testament only five times. It is the word used of "the true Light" (John 1:9; 1 John 2:8 ); "the true Bread" (John 6:32), and "the true Vine" (John 15:1). Applied to God, we find it in John 7:29; John 17:3; 1 John 5:20. He that hath the key of David. Observe that none of these titles come from the opening vision in Revelation 1, although by no means all the material there found (Revelation 1:13-16) has been already used. The source of the present appellation is obviously Isaiah 22:20-22; but it is worth noting that Isaiah 22:20 has much that is parallel to the unused material in Revelation 1:18; so that the opening vision would seem to direct us, as this passage certainly does, to Eliakim as a type of Christ. As Trench observes, Isaiah foretells the promotion of Eliakim "with an emphasis and fulness" which would surprise us if we did not see in it not merely the description of "a revolution in the royal palace" of Judah, but "the type of something immeasurably greater." Shebna, whose name shows him to have been a foreigner, had misused his dignity and power as steward or controller of the royal house - an office analogous to that held by Joseph under Pharaoh and by our prime minister. For this he was degraded to the inferior office of royal scribe or secretary (Isaiah 36:3; Isaiah 37:2), while Eliakim was made "mayor of the palace" in his room. The παστοφόριον of the LXX. and praepositus templi of the Vulgate would lead us to suppose that Eliakim's office was sacerdotal; but this is certainly a mistake. Luther's Hofmeister is much nearer the mark. A key would not be an appropriate symbol of a priestly office. In possessing "the key of the house of David," Eliakim had control over the house of David. Therefore in this passage Christ claims the control of that of which the house of David was a type. He is Regent in the kingdom of God. He that openeth, and none shall shut, and shutteth, and none openeth. The various readings here are numerous, but not of much moment: "shall shut" is much better attested than "shutteth" in the first half "The keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 16:19) are not to be confounded with "the key of knowledge" (Luke 11:52). They belong to Christ, but have been committed to his Church, but not unreservedly. "He still retains the highest administration in his own hands" (Trench): and if the Church errs in binding or loosing, he cancels the judgment. The Church may open where Christ will shut, and shut where Christ will open. He alone openeth so that none shall strut, and shutteth so that none can open.
I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Verse 8. - I know thy works. Once more Christ's judgment is based upon intimate personal knowledge. A question arises whether the next sentence, introduced by "behold," should be parenthetical or not. It is possible, as in the Authorized Version and previous English versions, and also in the Vulgate, to avoid what is certainly an awkward parenthesis. On the other hand, it seems clear that in ver. 1 and ver. 15 ὅτι depends upon οῖδα, "I know thy works, that thou," and does not introduce a fresh sentence; "I know thy works: for thou." Then must not ὅτι depend upon οῖδα here? But either arrangement makes good sense, and perhaps the omission of the parenthesis makes the best sense: "Because thou hast little power, and hast made a good use of that little, I have given thee an opportunity of which none shall deprive thee." This seems to be the obvious meaning of the"opened door," in accordance with 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Acts 14:27; Colossians 4:3. The Philadelphian Church, in spite of its small advantages, whether in numbers or prosperity, kept Christ's word when called upon to deny him; and for this it shall ever have the privilege of giving others an entrance into Christ's fold. The aorists, ἐτήρησας and ἠρνήσω, appear to point to some definite occasion. On "keep my word," see notes on Revelation 1:3 and Revelation 2:26. The antithetic parallelism, "didst keep and didst not deny," is thoroughly in St. John's style, and is one of many instances of the Hebrew cast of his language (comp. Revelation 2:13; John 1:3, 20; John 3:16; John 10:5, 18, etc.; 1 John 1:5, 6; 1 John 2:4, 10, 11, 27, 28). The ungrammatical repetition involved in η{ν οὐδεὶς δύναται κλεῖσαι αὐτήν recurs in Revelation 7:2; Revelation 13:12; Revelation 20:8. Such frequent solecisms argue imperfect grasp of the language (comp. Mark 7:25; Acts 15:17).
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Verse 9. - Behold I give of the synagogue of Satan. The true reading seems to be neither δίδωμι nor δέδωκα, but διδῶ, from the form διδόω, which is fairly common in classical Greek. The construction, ἐκ τῆς- συναγωγῆς, the partitive genitive used as subject or object of a verb, is frequent in St. John's writings (John 1:24; John 7:40; John 16:17:2 John 4; comp. John 6:39; John 21:10). The Church of Smyrna was encouraged with a promise that their Jewish opponents should not be victorious over them. The Philadelphian Christians are told that they shall be victorious over their Jewish opponents. As before (Revelation 2:9), those who "say they are Jews, and they are not," are Jews who refuse to believe in the Messiah and reject the Gospel. The only true Jews are those who accept the Christ. They are not, but do lie. Antithetic parallelism, as in ver. 8 and Revelation 2:13. I will make them to come and worship at thy feet. This would be fulfilled when the destruction of Jerusalem drove large numbers of Jews into Asia Minor. Every city which had previously had a Jewish colony would then receive a great influx of refugees. This augmented Jewish settlement at Philadelphia was to furnish some converts to the Christian Church; but, as we learn from the epistles of Ignatius, these converts tainted the Church with a stubborn form of Judaistic error. Hence the need of the warning in ver. 11. Compare "The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet" (Isaiah 60:14; Isaiah 49:23). Know that I have loved thee. The "I" is emphatic: "I will cause them to recoginize that in this you received a blessing manifestly Divine."
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Verse 10. - Because thou didst keep (see notes on Revelation 1:3 and Revelation 2:26) the word of my patience, I also will keep thee. This is the Divine lex talionis. "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven; give, and it shall be given unto you" (Luke 6:37, 38); keep, and ye shall be kept. Compare "I know mine own, and mine own know me" (John 10:14). "The word of my patience" may mean either the gospel, which everywhere teaches patience, or those sayings of Christ in which he specially inculcates this duty (Luke 8:15; Luke 21:19; Matthew 10:22; Matthew 24:13). In "I also will keep thee" the two pronouns are in emphatic contrast. From the hour of temptation. The phrase, τηρεῖν ἐκ, occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in John 17:15 (comp. James 1:27, where we have τηρεῖν ἀπό, and 2 Thessalonians 3:3, φυλάσσειν ἀπό). It is not certain that the common explanation, that ἀπό implies exemption from trial, while ἐκ implies preservation under trial, holds good. "Temptation" (πειρασμός) generally has no article in the New Testament (Matthew 6:13; Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38, etc.; comp. especially Luke 8:13). Here it has the article, as if "the temptation" were to be of no ordinary kind. The word does not occur elsewhere in St. John's writings. In order to bring substantive and verb into harmony, the Revised Version renders πειρασμός "trial," the word for "to try" being πειράσαι. "World" here is not the κόσμος, "the ordered universe" (Revelation 11:15; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8), but the οἰκυμένη, "the inhabited earth" (Revelation 12:9; Revelation 16:14). The phrase, "to dwell upon the earth," κατοικεῖν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, is peculiar to the Apocalypse (Revelation 6:10; Revelation 8:13; Revelation 11:10; Revelation 13:8, 14). "The hour of trial" seems to be that which Christ had foretold should precede his coming, especially the triumph of antichrist. Hence the declaration in the next verse.
Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Verse 11. - I come quickly. Contrast μαι σοι (Revelation 2:5, 16), which is a threat, with ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς (John 14:28; comp. Revelation 16:7; Revelation 17:11, 13) and ἔρχομαι used absolutely (Revelation 3:11; Revelation 22:7, 11, 29), which is a promise. Here the declaration is one of encouragement to the Church - her trial will be short; her reward is near at hand (see notes on Revelation 1:1). Hold fast. The same verb (κρατεῖν with the accusative) as in Revelation 2:1, 13, 14, 15, 25. The epistle of Ignatius shows that this warning was needed. Owing to the stubborn Judaism of some in the Philadelphian Church, the central truths of the gospel were in danger. Take thy crown. Not merely "take away" (α{ρῃ) from thee (1 John 3:5), but "receive" (λάβῃ) for himself (Matthew 5:40). Such seems the natural, though perhaps not the necessary, meaning of the word, and so Jerome renders it accipiat, not auferat. Thus Jacob received Esau's crown, and Matthias Judas's, and the Gentiles that of the Jews. But the matter is not of much moment; the prominent thought is the loss to the loser, not the gain to any one else.
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Verse 12. - Him that overcometh will I make a pillar. (For construction, ὁ νικῶν, ποιήσω αὐτὸν, see on Revelation 2:26.) The "overcoming" is a present continuous process, but will have a termination, and then he who has faithfully fought the daily battle will be made a pillar, steadfast, immovable. St. John may be alluding to

(1) the two pillars of Solomon's temple set up in the porch, and called Jachin (יָכִין he will establish) and Boaz (בֹּעַץ, in him is strength); see 1 Kings 7:15, 21 and 2 Chronicles 3:17. Both names signify steadfastness and permanence, and would serve to render emphatic the superiority in these respects of the reward to come when compared with the evanescent nature of present suffering. A pillar is constantly used as a figure of strength and durability (see Jeremiah 1:18; Galatians 2:9).

(2) A contrast may be intended between the immovableness of the Christian's future position and the liability of pillars in the Philadelphian temples to succumb to the effects of the frequent earthquakes which took place there (see on ver. 7). Such pillars, moreover, were frequently sculptured in human shape.

(3) Matthew Henry suggests that a reference may be intended to monumental pillars bearing inscriptions; the signification being "a monumental pillar of the free and powerful grace of God, never to be defaced or removed; not a support - heaven needing no such props." But it seems much more likely that St. John is alluding to the Hebrew temple. In the temple. The temple is ναὸς, the shrine, the dwelling place of God, not ἱερὸν, the whole extent of the sacred buildings. The latter word occurs often in St. John's Gospel, but never in the Apocalypse. The temple in the Revelation is the abode of God, the sacred shrine into which all may be privileged to enter, both in this world and in the world to come. Of my God (see note on Revelation 3:2; 2:7). And he shall go no more out. "And out of it he shall in no wise go out more:" such is the full force of the Greek. The conqueror's period of probation will be over, and he shall be for ever free from the possibility of falling away. Trench quotes St. Augustine: "Quis non desideret illam civi-tatem, unde amicus non exit, quo inimicus non intrat?" And I will write upon him the name of my God (cf. Revelation 22:4, "His name shall be in their foreheads;" and Revelation 9:4, "Those which have not the seal of God in their foreheads;" the former passage referring to the elect in heaven, the latter distinguishing Christians on earth from their heathen oppressors). In the passage under consideration the action is future; it does not refer to holy baptism, but to the sealing of the faithful upon their entrance into glory - a sealing which shall settle for ever, and make all things sure. "To write the name upon" anything is a common figurative expression in Hebrew to denote taking absolute possession of, and making completely one's own. Thus Joab fears that Rabbah may be called after his name, i.e. looked upon as his, if David should be absent at the capture of it (2 Samuel 12:28; cf. also Numbers 6:27). The struggling Christian is encouraged by hearing that a time will come when he will without any doubt become God's own, incapable of being removed or claimed by other. In the rabbinical book, 'Bava Bathra,' 75. 2, it is noted that there are three applications of the name of God:

(1) to the just (Isaiah 43:7);

(2) to the Messiah (Jeremiah 23:6);

(3) to Jerusalem (Ezekiel 48:35).

A reference may be intended to the frontlet of the high priest, upon which was inscribed, "Holiness to the Lord" (Exodus 28:36). The inscription is threefold:

(1) the name of God;

(2) the name of the new Jerusalem;

(3) the name of Christ.

For God was the Christian maintaining his warfare; to the Church, the new Jerusalem, was he rendering this service; under Christ, as Captain, was the fight being accomplished. Again, the victorious Christian was

(1) to belong completely to God;

(2) to possess the citizenship of the new Jerusalem;

(3) to enter into the glory of Christ, which was the new name, that which he knew not yet.

We can here trace an analogy to the baptismal formula.

(1) The name of God the Father, whose we are made;

(2) God the Holy Ghost, whose indwelling guides and sustains his Church, the new Jerusalem;

(3) God the Son, by whose Name we shall enter glory. And the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem; rather, the city... new Jerusalem (see Revised Version). In Ezekiel 48:35 the name given to the city Jerusalem is Jehovah Shammah, "the Lord is there;" and in Jeremiah 33:16 Jehovah Tsidkenu, "the Lord our Righteousness." Either of these may be meant; but, as Alford points out, the holy name itself has already been inscribed. In any case, the victorious one is to be openly acknowledged a citizen of the new Jerusalem. The old Jerusalem was destroyed, and her citizens scattered; but a new Jerusalem, of which the true Israelites are the citizens, should reunite the faithful. It is noticeable that without exception, throughout the Revelation, St. John uses the Hebraic form of the name Ιερουσαλὴμ, while in the Gospel Ιεροσόλυμα always occurs. He almost seems to distinguish thus between the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly - the home of the true Israel. Which cometh down out of heaven from my God. "Which cometh down" (ἡ καταβαίνουσα), a grammatical anomaly (cf. ver. 11; Revelation 2:20 and Revelation 3:12). The name "new Jerusalem" is always coupled in the Revelation with the phrase, "coming down from heaven" (see Revelation 21:2, 10). The spirituality and holiness of the Church is thus set forth, since its being is wholly due to God, in its creation and sustenance. And I will write upon him my new name; and mine own new name (Revised Version). This is not any of the names given in the Revelation, but that referred to in Revelation 19:12, οὐδεὶς οῖδεν εἰ μὴ αὐτός, which no one knew except himself. The passage is a promise that when Christ makes us completely his own by writing his own new name on us, he will admit us into his full glory, which is at present incomprehensible to us. Such comprehension is one of the things "which shall be hereafter" (Revelation 1:19), and which cannot now be known to us, "for now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Verse 13. - He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches (see on Revelation 2:7). Of the condition of the Church in Philadelphia we know nothing from Holy Writ, except what is contained in the passage before us. But its comparative immunity from trouble and destruction, and its continued existence to the present day (see on vers. 7-13, "Philadelphia"), render it probable that the message of the apostle was not without some effect. Thus Gibbon writes: "In the loss of Ephesus the Christians deplored the fall of the first angel, the extinction of the first candlestick, of the Revelation; the desolation is complete; and the Temple of Diana or the Church of Mary will equally elude the search of the curious traveller. The circus and three stately theatres of Laodicea are now peopled with wolves and foxes; Sardis is reduced to a miserable village; the God of Mahomet, without a rival or a Son, is invoked in the mosques of Thyatira and Pergamos, and the populousness of Smyrna is supported by the foreign trade of the Franks and Armenians. Philadelphia alone has been saved by prophecy or courage" ('Decline and Fall,' c). 64.
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Verses 14-22. - The epistle to the Church in Laodicea. Laodicea, on the Lycus, a tributary of the Maeander, lay some fifty miles to the south-east of Philadelphia. The modern Turkish name, Eskihissar, signifies "the old castle." It is situated on the western side of the valley of the Lycus, on the opposite slopes of which, some six or eight miles distant, were Hierapolis and Colossae, with which it is associated by St. Paul (Colossians 4:13, 16). Named at first Diosopolis, after its tutelary deity, Zeus, it subsequently became Rheas, and finally received its name from Antiochus II., in honour of his wife, Laodice. There were several other cities of the same name, from which it was distinguished by the addition of the words, "on the Lycus." It was a wealthy city, its trade consisting chiefly in the preparation of woollen materials. It was advantageously situated, too, on the high road leading from Ephesus into the interior. Though, in common with the other cities of Asia Minor, visited by earthquakes, it quickly recovered; and it was the proud boast of the Laodiceans that, unlike Ephesus and Sardis, they required no extraneous assistance to enable them to regain their former prosperity. This fact undoubtedly explains the temptations to which the Laodiceans were liable, and the reference in ver. 16 to those who were neither cold nor hot, and that in ver. 17 to those who said they were rich and had need of nothing (see on vers. 16, 17). The Christian Church there may have been founded by Epaphras, through whom St. Paul probably learned of the existence of false doctrine there (Colossians 2:4, 8 and Colossians 1:8), for the Epistle to the Colossians seems to be equally addressed to the Laodiceans (Colossians 4:16). The importance of this Church continued for some time, the celebrated Council of Laodicea being held there in A.D. , and a century later its bishop held a prominent position (Labbe, 4. p. 82, etc.). But its influence gradually waned, and the Turks pressed hardly upon it; so that at the present time it is little more than a heap of ruins. The warnings of the Apostles SS. Paul and John, if heeded at all for a time, were forgotten, and her candlestick was removed. Verse 14. - And unto the angel. Those expositors who understand "the angel" of a Church to signify its chief officer, may with some plausibility argue that at Laodicea it seems almost certain that this was Archippus. In his Epistle to Philemon, a wealthy convert of Colossae, St. Paul sends greeting to Archippus (Philemon 1:2). If Archippus were the son of philemon, he might very well have been Bishop of Laodicea at the time of St. John's message. Moreover, the son of a wealthy and influential Christian, though likely to have been selected as bishop in the neighbouring Church, may have lacked the zeal necessary for the thorough performance of his work; and would thus incur the marked rebuke of St. Paul, "Say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it" (Colossians 4:17), which appears immediately after the mention of the Laodicean Church. The Apostolical Constitutions also assert that Archippus was first Bishop of Laodicea. Of the Church of the Laodiceans write; or, of the Church in Laodicea (τῆς ἐν Λαοδικαίᾳ ἐκκλησίας). These things saith the Amen. The word "Amen" is here used as a proper name of our Lord; and this is the only instance of such an application. It signifies the "True One." It is a word much used in St. John's Gospel, where it appears repeated at the commencement of many discourses, "Verily, verily." In Isaiah 65:16 "the God of Amen" (אמן) is rendered in the LXX. by ἀληθινός; in the Authorized Version by "truth" (cf. the use of the English "very" as an adjective - "the very one," i.e. the real or true one). The term is peculiarly well adapted to our Lord (who is the Truth, John 14:6), not only as a general name or title, but especially in connexion with this solemn announcement to the Laodiceans. There was great need of the truth being openly proclaimed by him who is the Truth to those who, though nominally Christians, were ensnared by the deceitfulness of riches (Matthew 13:22), and were deceiving themselves in the attempt to make the best of both worlds by their lukewarm Christianity. It was the purpose of this epistle to draw aside the veil which was hiding the truth from their eyes, and to bring them to a realization of that most difficult of all knowledge - a knowledge of self. The faithful and true Witness - an amplification of "the Amen." The epithet "faithful" asserts the truthfulness of Christ's work as a Witness; "true" (ἀληθινός) signifies "real and complete." He is a faithful Witness because his witness is true; and he is a true Witness because in him is the complete realization of all the qualifications which constitute any one really and truly a witness. "Faithful" (πιστός) has the passive meaning of "that which is worthy of faith," not the active meaning of "he who believes something." Trench well points out that God can only be faithful in the former sense; man may be faithful in beth senses. Christ was a Witness worthy of faith, since he possessed all the attributes of such a witness. He

(1) had seen what he attested;

(2) was competent to relate and reproduce this information;

(3) was willing to do this faithfully and truly.

The Beginning of the creation of God. There are two ways in which these words might be understood:

(1) that in which "beginning" is taken in a passive sense, and which would therefore make Christ the first created thing of all the things which God created;

(2) the active sense, by which Christ is described as the Beginner, the Author, Moving Principle or Source of all the things which God created. That the latter meaning is the true one is plain from the whole tenor of Holy Scripture. The Ariaus, attempting to disprove the Divinity of our Lord, quoted this passage, attributing to it the former sense. But ἀρχή is often used actively, and may well be so used here - a view which is confirmed by the abundant evidence of our Lord's Divinity found elsewhere in the Bible, and nowhere more plainly asserted than in the writings of St. John. The self-reliant Laodiceans are thus directed to place their trust in him who is the Source of all things, rather than in those created things of which he is the Creator.
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Verse 15. - I know thy works; and because they are not what they should be (vers. 16, 17), I give thee this admonition, which is nevertheless a warning and a token of my love (ver. 19). That thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. The lukewarmness of which the Epistle complains was produced by a fallacious sense of security, begotten of ease and prosperity. In truth those "secure," without care, had become the careless ones. Active opposition may well be a less deadly evil than careless ease. The persecution of a St. Paul may be diverted into the zeal of an apostle; but how can any active good be got from that which is utterly stagnant and without motive power? The man who, by wilful action, increases a disease, may repent of his deed, and try to recover from the danger to which he has exposed himself; but he who lives on in careless ignorance of the existence of the malady can never improve himself until he has awoke to a full knowledge of his own state. Some understand "cold" to mean "untouched by the power of grace," and "lukewarm" to denote those who, having received the grace of God, had not allowed it full scope in bringing forth works meet for repentance (Matthew 3:8). And just as there was more hope of the real conversion of the "cold" publicans and harlots, who "went into heaven" (Matthew 21:31) before the self-satisfied, "lukewarm" Pharisees, so there is more hope of an unconverted sinner than of him who, having once been roused to a sense of God's will, has relapsed into a state of self satisfied indolence and carelessness. The sentence is not a wish that the Laodiceans should become hot or cold; it is a regret that they had not been one or the other. Our Lord is not wishing that any of them may become cold, but regretting that, when he comes to review their conduct and to pronounce judgment, many of them cannot even plead that they "knew not the way of righteousness," but belong to that worse class, "which after they had known it, turned from the holy commandment delivered unto them (2 Peter 2:21; see also John 9:41).
So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Verse 16. - So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. The distaste and nausea produced by lukewarm food, which the stomach naturally rejects with loathing, are used as a figure in which to express the abhorrence of Christ for those who lacked zeal in his service (cf. Leviticus 18:28 and Leviticus 20:22, "That the land spue not you out also"). But the sentence is not irrevocable; there is still hope of averting it: Μέλλω σε ἐμέσαι, "I am about to spue thee," i.e. if a timely repentance does not avert the impending doom. (Contrast the absoluteness of the future in Revelation 2:5, etc., ἔρχομαί σοι ταχὺ καὶ κινήσω.)
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Verse 17. - Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing. The Epistle is still addressed indirectly to the Laodicean Church, directly to the angel. No doubt spiritual riches are immediately referred to; but spiritual pride and lukewarmness are frequently produced by worldly prosperity, such as that which Archippus (if he be the angel addressed; see on ver. 14) and the Church over which he presided enjoyed. It is not enough for the wealthy Christian to contribute a portion of his wealth, and then to consider his task done and his reward sure. Greater zeal than this is requisite before he can deem his duty discharged. Moreover, the greater the zeal that exists, the less will be the inclination to rely upon what has been accomplished, or to think it sufficient; for when all has been done we are still to call ourselves unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10; cf. Hosea 12:8, "I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin"). And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; and knowest not that thou, even thou thyself, art the wretched one. The self-satisfied spiritual pride of the Pharisee caused him to regard with complacent pity the condition of the publican. But he was mistaken; he himself was the wretched one, who was to be pitied. So with the Laodicean Church. How different the conduct of St. Paul, who recognized his own wretchedness (Romans 7:24, where the same word ταλαίπωρος is used)! The following words are adjectives. These Christians, in their spiritual pride, were miserable - deserving of pity; poor in the wealth accumulated by zeal in God's service; blind as to their real condition and their fancied spiritual safety; and naked of the cloak with which charity - fervent love of God - would have covered them.
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Verse 18. - I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; gold refined by the fire (Revised Version). It is doubtful whether ver. 17 should be connected with ver. 18 or with ver. 16 - whether the self-satisfied condition of the Church is given as the reason why "I will spue thee out of my mouth," or as the reason why "I counsel thee to buy of me." The Revised Version follows the Authorized Version in connecting yore. 17 and 18; and this view is supported by Alford, Bengel, Dusterdieck, Ebrard. But Trench prefers the other view. The Authorized Version seems correct, for the reason why "I will spue thee" is given in ver. 16, and another separate reason would probably (though not certainly) not be added. Though St. Paul (Colossians 2:3) had pointed out to the Laodiceans (see on the epistle generally, vers. 14-22; and el. Colossians 4:16) where "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," they had not heeded the lesson, and now Christ once more counsels them to obtain true riches from the proper source. They are to buy from me; the emphasis being laid on me, in contradistinction to their trust in themselves. They are poor (ver. 17), and must therefore obtain gold refined by the fire - gold superior to that on the possession of which they so prided themselves, that they may indeed be rich. To buy this gold by giving something of equal value in exchange, they were truly unable. Yet it was to be bought, and would entail the sacrifice of something which, though perhaps dear to them, would be nothing in comparison with the return they would obtain. Note the Revised Version rendering may become rich, repeating and enforcing the fact of their present destitution. And white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed. Laodicea is said to have been famous for the raven blackness of the wool which was prepared and dyed there. This, perhaps, explains the point of the reproof contained in these words. "Notwithstanding thy trust in the excellence of the apparel for which thou aft famous, thou art yet naked (ver. 17), and needest clothing; that clothing can be obtained only from me, and is far superior to that of which thou boastest, since it is white, the emblem of all that is purest and best; not black, like your own, which is a type of darkness, the darkness of ignorance and sin. Mine is indeed the garment of righteousness, the marriage garment with which thou mayest enter the presence of thy King." And that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear. The nakedness will certainly be made apparent at some time. If it be persistently overlooked or ignored now, it will be made more glaring in the future, when God turns upon it the brightness of his presence. In the Revised Version "appear" is even more emphatically rendered "be made manifest" (φανερωθῇ). "Stripping," in the Bible, is commonly used to denote putting to shame: Hanun cut off the garments of David's servants (2 Samuel 10:4); the King of Assyria was to lead away the Egyptians naked and barefoot (Isaiah 20:4; see also Revelation 16:15); while supplying with clothes, or an additional quantity of clothes, was intended to show honour: thus Pharaoh arrayed Joseph in vestures of fine linen (Genesis 41:42); Joseph gave Benjamin five changes of raiment (Genesis 45:22; see also Esther 6:9; Ezekiel 16:10; Daniel 5:29; Zechariah 3:4; Luke 15:22). And anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. This is, of course, a reference in the "blindness" of ver. 17, of which the Laodiceans were ignorant. "Eyesalve" is κολλούριον ( ξολλψριυμ, perhaps so called because made up in the shape of a cake of bread - collyra. We cannot but think, in connexion with this passage, of the miracle of the healing of the blind man by the anointing of his eyes by our Lord - a miracle witnessed and related by St. John (John 9.). The subsequent incidents and discourse, too, forcibly illustrate the state of the Laodiceans, so much like that of the Pharisees, to whom were addressed the words, "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth" (see on ver. 15).
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Verse 19. - As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. As many as. Not one whom God loves escapes chastening; if he be not chastened, he is not a son (Hebrews 12:8), for "all have sinned, and come short." "I love" is φιλῶ, I love dearly; not merely ἀγαπῶ. I rebuke (ἐλέγχω), to reprove, so as to convict of sin and turn to repentance; the work of the Holy Ghost, who should "convict the world of sin" (John 16:8). This verse is a solace and encouragement for the Laodi-ceans. They were required to make the sacrifices demanded of them, not so much that they might be punished for their transgressions, but to prove themselves of the number of God's elect. The stern reproof administered was a pruning, which was an evidence of God's loving care for them; the final sentence, "Cut it down," had not yet gone forth. But though thus intended for encouragement rather than condemnation, yet it could not but contain implied reproach, however tender. No one can be exhorted to change his path and to seek that which is holy without being reminded that he is unholy and has wandered from the right way. Those in Laodicea who took this message to heart must needs think of their unchastened life - the life full of prosperity and self-satisfied security, into which so little zeal had been infused, in which so little need for repentance bad been felt. The Church, indeed, needed some of that chastening, that persecution, and hardship, which should arouse her from the perilous slumber of ease into which she had fallen, and call forth some zeal and self-sacrifice, the frequent and natural result of opposition.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Verse 20. - Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; behold, I have stood (ἕστηκα) at the door, and am knocking (κρούω). "These gracious words declare the long-suffering of Christ, as he waits for the conversion of sinners (1 Peter 3:20); and not alone the long-suffering which waits, but the love which seeks to bring that conversion about, which 'knocks.' He at whose door we ought to stand, for he is the Door (John 10:7), who, as such, has bidden us to knock (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9), is content that the whole relation between him and us should be reversed, and instead of our standing at his door, condescends himself to stand at ours" (Trench). The view, that stand at the door signifies "to come quickly" (Dusterdieck), as in Revelation 2:5, 16; Revelation 3:3, 11, is scarcely in accordance with the context, since the whole passage has changed from rebuke and menace to patient beseeching and loving exhortation. These words recall the frequent use by our Lord of this figure of knocking, and especially Luke 12:35, 36, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately." If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me (see the parallel passage in Song of Solomon 5.). Christ knocks and speaks. A distinction has been drawn in the work of conversion, corresponding to these two actions. The knocking is likened to the more outward calls of sickness, trouble, etc., by which he makes his presence known; while the voice, which interprets the knock and informs us of the Personality of him who knocks, is the voice of the Holy Spirit, speaking to us, and explaining the meaning of our trials. Man's free will is here well and plainly set forth. Though the opening, to be effective, needs the help and presence of Christ, yet he does not forcibly effect an entrance; it is still within the power of man to disregard the knock, to refuse to hear the voice, to keep the door fast shut. To take food with any one is an outward sign of brotherly love and reconciliation. Christ will sup with those who do not drive him away, and they will sup with him. The whole figure is an image of the perfect nature of the sinner's reconciliation with God, and of the wonderful goodness and condescension of Christ. But we may well see an allusion to the Holy Communion, by which we are reconciled to God through Christ, and by which we may even now have a foretaste of the final supper of the Lamb, which shall eventually last for ever.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Verse 21. - To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. The climax of the promises made to the seven Churches (cf. Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; Revelation 3:5, 12). There are two points to be noticed in this promise:

(1) the position promised to the conqueror, "in my throne;"

(2) the two thrones mentioned.

(1) Note the expression, "in my throne" (not ἐπὶ, but ἐν τῷ θρόνῳ), which occurs nowhere else. The mother of St. James and St. John had requested for them a place on the right hand and the left of our Lord - the highest dignity which she could conceive. The twelve apostles are promised to sit on twelve thrones, to judge the tribes of Israel. But Christ offers a yet higher honour, viz. to sit in his throne; placing us in the closest relationship with himself, and exalting us to his own glory.

(2) The throne promised is not that which Christ now occupies with his Father, but his own. Christ is now sitting on his Father's throne, mediating for his Church on earth, and waiting till his enemies be made his footstool (Psalm 110:1). To that throne there is no admission for humanity, though Christ shares it in virtue of his Godhead. But when his enemies have been made his footstool, and death, the last enemy, is destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26), and the necessity for his mediation exists no longer, since the Church militant will have become the Church triumphant, rhea will be erected Christ's own throne, which glorified man may share in common with him who was man, and who has so exalted humanity as to render such a condition and such a position possible.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Verse 22. - He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. The seven messages were not merely separate admonitions addressed only to each particular Church, but all the epistles were meant for all the seven Churches, and, after them, for the universal Church. Each Church had an especial failing brought more emphatically before it; but still the seven warnings are one whole, for the edification of all. As it behoves the individual Christian to avoid and repent of all sin, and yet to fix his attention on the cure of some besetting sin to which he is peculiarly liable, so these messages, though intended to be read by all, and heeded by all, place vividly before each Church its besetting sin, which more particularly requires attention. And as the sins to be avoided are to be avoided by all, so the separate rewards arc promised to all who overcome. They are, therefore, not really distinct rewards, but rather different phases and views of one great whole, which shall be enjoyed in its entirety by those who have struggled victoriously with the trials and temptations of the world.

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